IRVING, Texas – In studying my notes ahead of Wednesday's open OTA session, I want to take a closer look at some developments I'm watching for this Cowboys offense.
I've gotten a lot of questions about the impact of Dez Bryant's absence from practice, and what that means for the receivers developing behind him. I've got some notes about these young receivers, as well as some more thoughts on the offensive line:
- If there is an area of this Cowboys offensive line that doesn't get enough credit, it is in their mobility and the way they can play in space as a group. If you really take time to study the five starters, you see their ability to stay on their feet and finish blocks -- whether that is on the second level in the running game or on the edge in the screen packages.
It's a given for guys like Tyron Smith, Doug Free and Zack Martin to be natural in space because of their backgrounds as tackles, but I have noticed in these practices how much of a better job both Travis Frederick and Ronald Leary have been -- especially Leary, who at times might appear like he is lumbering but that's not the case at all. Leary's overall foot quickness and balance have improved to the point where I believe you will see more plays to the edge with the style of backs this team has.
Pulling offensive linemen is something that every offensive coordinator wants to do, but few take that route due to the lack of athletic ability with the guys that you are asking to pull. This line does a nice job on those stretch plays, but I expect that we will also see more plays putting these guys in space.
- Count me as one of those guys that is glad to see Cole Beasley getting work on the outside as a receiver along with his responsibilities out of the slot. I don't think it's too much to ask him to play wide despite his lack of height.[embeddedad0]
I still believe that getting him the ball underneath while on the move is his best trait, but finding ways to work him down the field inside the hashes or quickly on along the sideline has a chance to have success due to his body control, balance and situational awareness.
It's very much like playing Greg Hardy inside as a defensive tackle – it's not something you want to do every play, but one or two snaps a game you have a chance to take advantage of a little bit different look in your schemes.
- It feels like I have said this every season that he has been in the league, but I want to find ways to get the ball into Lance Dunbar's hands any chance I can. I understand how difficult it was to take DeMarco Murray off the field last season, but even if it was for two or three plays like in the Seattle game, I am going in that direction.
In my previous point about the offensive line, I spoke of their ability to run plays in space and this is right in Dunbar's wheelhouse to use his explosive quickness. He can be more than just a screen or draw-runner in this offense. You can hand him the ball inside and off the edge to get positive plays. His size does not bother me one bit -- unless you are asking him to stand in there and blitz protect, but I do know if he is required to do it, he will do his best because that's the way he plays the game.
- I don't know if rookie wide receiver Deontay Greenberry has a shot to make the final 53-man roster, but of all the young guys that are working at the position -- he tends to stand out above all others when it comes to make the most difficult catches.
What is interesting about Greenberry and the way that he plays is that he honestly believes that every ball that goes in his direction is his ball no matter where it is and he will fight to go get it. What I also like about Greenberry is his size at 6-3, 200 pounds.
He is not the smoothest route runner and he is going to need plenty of work in this area, but he is so darn competitive that I find myself pulling for him because the chip he has on his shoulder.
This will be a fun preseason with these young receivers all fight for spots most likely on the practice squad.